Will Peace Monitors Change Anything In Syria?
December 29, 2011
In recent days, international peace monitors have arrived in Syria to evaluate whether the violent government crackdown there has ended. The monitors’ tour began inauspiciously when one leader declared that he saw “nothing frightening” in Homs, a city which has suffered devastating violence throughout the uprising. Which factors limit the success of human rights monitoring? A 2004 article by Michael O’Flaherty, a former United Nations official who established human rights programs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Sierra Leone, outlines some of the core challenges facing effective monitoring.
Just months ago, the prospect of a no-fly or “buffer” zone for protecting Syrian civilians was roundly rejected by just about everyone. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in early August that a U.N.-sponsored military action in Syria was “not a remote possibility.” Anders Rasmussen, the Secretary-General of NATO, was asked in Tripoli in November if a round-two interdiction might be in the offing in Damascus: “My answer is very short,” he answered. “NATO has no intention [to intervene] whatsoever.
December 14, 2011
Newt Gingrich has dumbly stirred a ruckus in saying that the Arabs of Palestine are an “invented people.” It did not increase his chances of winning the Republican presidential nomination: How many Jews actually vote in Republican primaries? (And many Christian Zionists are already for him on altogether non-Zionist grounds.) But it should not have caused such a furor in the first place.
At Least People Are Allowed to Speak in Jordan: Democracy in the Kingdom
December 05, 2011
Here is a televised debate about Syria on Jordanian television. People are allowed to say anything they want. And they do. The first inklings of real democracy in the kingdom. And who’s to blame for what’s going on in Syria? The Israelis, of course. Watch this, too. Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.
How to Explain the Arab League’s Shocking Decision on Syria?
December 01, 2011
In March 2009, the Arab League welcomed Sudanese President Omar Bashir at its summit in Qatar. Just weeks earlier, Bashir had been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC)—and a warrant issued for his arrest—for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the murder of nearly 500,000 civilians in Darfur. No matter. The Arab League rejected ICC jurisdiction as an illegal violation of Sudanese sovereignty. But now, in the months since the Arab Spring began, the Arab League seems to have undergone a transformation.
Saif Qaddafi’s Capture and the End of the Arab Spring
November 23, 2011
Forgive the corny metaphors. But it was not I who framed developments in the Arab world with the sequence of the seasons. Still, you need only glance at the papers to recognize that Arab Spring is now Arab Winter without really ever having passed through summer or fall. Spring is, as ever, a romantic memory. As I write, Reuters reports from the Cairo morgue that 33 to 46 protestors were killed by the police since Saturday—and that nearly 1,300 were wounded and maimed.
Why Syria’s Kurds Will Determine the Fate of the Revolution
November 16, 2011
On the eve of Eid al-Adha, the Islamic “Festival of Sacrifice,” Burhan Ghalioun, the de facto leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), the newly formed opposition group that aims to be internationally recognized as Syria’s government-in-exile, went on international television to deliver an address.
November 09, 2011
On a Tuesday morning in September, three buses full of Libyan tribesmen milled around the gilded lobby of the Ritz Carlton hotel in Doha, the shimmering glass capital of Qatar. The tribesmen were dressed in a mixture of suits and ties and sweeping white robes, and they had come to personally thank the emir for helping them to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi. Yusef Mansoori, a member of the delegation, told me earnestly, “We would like to thank him very, very much for everything he has done for us.” Certainly, the Libyans had plenty to be grateful for.
A Fighting Chance: Why Obama’s Support For Syria’s Non-Violent Protests Isn’t Enough
October 25, 2011
Since this summer, the United States has generally played a constructive role in support of the Syrian opposition. In contrast to Russia and China—whose flags are now routinely torched by Syrians after the two countries vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Assad regime for atrocities—Washington is popular with Syria’s anti-regime opposition.
In Praise of Robert Ford, the Saving Grace of America’s Syria Policy
October 20, 2011
Since the Syrian people began their uprising against the rule of Bashar al-Assad, Americans have been told repeatedly that there is little they can do about the situation. Experts in think tanks, universities, and the halls of U.S. government have been eager to remind us that the conditions in Syria—with its fractured opposition, brutal and loyal military forces, and fragile regional neighborhood—simply didn’t leave much room for Americans to make a difference. But Robert Ford, our ambassador in Damascus, never seemed to accept this simplistic line of thinking.